Saturday, December 31, 2011

Big-Batch Chili

Usually I make a several kinds of little food for our annual (almost) New Year’s Eve open house. This year I decided to make a big pot of chili to round out the selection of appetizers and desserts that our friends brought to share. Over the years, I have experimented with many different ways to make chili and this creation is no exception. It uses ground beef and a combo of black beans and garbanzo beans. The complexity of flavors from the spices works well. I pureed the veggies to add nutritional value while disguising their presence from picky vegetable-haters. Enjoy!

Big-Batch Chili
2 onions, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
3 celery ribs, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
3 lb. lean ground beef
2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. chile powder
2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
3 Tbsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 (28-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water (optional)

1. Place onion and next 3 ingredients in bowl of food processor, and pulse until slightly chunky. Cook vegetable mixture in hot oil in a large Dutch oven for 5 minutes or until vegetables began to become aromatic. Season with salt and pepper. Add in ground beef, and cook, stirring often, until meat is browned and crumbly. Stir in allspice and next 5 ingredients; stir in salt and pepper. Add in tomatoes, beans, and, if needed, water. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fish and Grits

My father-in-law was visiting tonight and I needed a quick but tasty meal to serve. Andy’s not a fan of shrimp (I know, it’s sad!), so I don’t cook it often. He does like fish and we eat tilapia a lot. I decided to pair the flavors of this recipe with tilapia instead (three tilapia fillets were subbed for the shrimp). The results were yummy! The biggest challenge was presentation. The fish broke down too much, so I just spoon it and the sauce over the grit—not the prettiest meal, for sure. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Penny’s Rum Cake

This delicious recipe is from the mother of a former SL coworker of mine. His mom would make it for us at Christmas and we always eagerly anticipated the arrival of the package from Kentucky! It’s so simple—the basis is a cake mix. If you have any left, it freezes well. Five of my nieces came to help me bake for Christmas today. The little girls took turn adding things to the mixer, and Mad, who’s 13, chopped pecans. We had a great time together. Enjoy!

Penny’s Rum Cake
1 box golden yellow cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light rum
4 eggs
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light rum
1/4 cup water

1. Combine cake mix and next 4 ingredients. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended after each addition. Lightly grease a Bundt pan, and sprinkle pecans in bottom of pan. Pour batter over pecans.
2. Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until done.
3. Meanwhile, combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes.
4. Use a skewer or large fork to make holes in warm cake still in pan. Slowly pour sugar mixture over cake, and let stand 25 minutes before removing cake from pan.
my helpers: LB, Mad, AC, Em, Mol

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pancake Fritters

This is my latest dessert brainstorm. I was thinking about serving apple fritters for dessert at supper club but then decided to use my pancake batter as a basis for the fritters instead. The only change necessary for the recipe was to make it with a little less liquid. We enjoyed the warm fritters with a homemade milk chocolate ganache (milk chocolate chips melted with a little cream) and caramel sauce.

Pancake Fritters
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Vegetable oil

1. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
2. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven. Working in batches, scoop batter into hot oil. Cook, turning fritters, until golden and cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cheese Bread

My favorite thing about dinner at our favorite pizza place is the cheese bread. Tonight some friends and their sons came over for homemade pizza, so I decided it was time to figure out how to make cheese bread. This creation is super-easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Cheese Bread
1 round pizza dough (homemade or purchased from the Publix bakery)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

1. Roll out dough on a pizza stone. Combine butter and next 2 ingredients; spread over top of pizza dough. Sprinkle with cheese.
2. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is done. Serve immediately.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cheddar-Bacon Potato Chips

We hosted our supper club tonight and served a collection of appetizers: layered Mexican dip with homemade tortilla chips, sliced pork tenderloin on rolls, pork dumplings, and cheddar-bacon potato chips with a ranch dipping sauce.

For this recipe, I decided to make homemade potato chips, which require some effort but are completely worth it. Thinly slice the potatoes (a mandolin makes this easy); place the slices in a bowl, and cover with ice water. Allow them to soak for about an hour. Drain potatoes, and pat dry with paper towels. Heat about 2 inches of peanut or vegetable oil in a Dutch oven, and cook potatoes, in batches, until golden and crisp; drain on paper towels. (If this is too much work, substitute kettle-cooked chips.) For the dipping sauce, I used a buttermilk ranch seasoning from Penzy’s—it had just the right ranch flavor.

Cheddar-Bacon Potato Chips
Homemade potato chips
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Arrange potato chips on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with bacon and shredded cheese.
2. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pasta With Bacon and Roasted Vegetables

This recipe is based on one in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living that I modified a bit. (Sorry, I forgot to take a photo!) The combination of ingredients is unusual, but it works well. The sweetness of the potatoes pairs well with the caramelized bitterness of the cauliflower and smokiness of the bacon. Andy was skeptical but gave it his seal of approval after trying it. Enjoy!

Pasta With Bacon and Roasted Vegetables
Olive oil
4 bacon slices, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper
8 ounces orecchiette pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven in hot oil until done; drain on paper towels, reserving drippings.
2. Toss sweet potato and next 3 ingredients in bacon drippings; season with salt and pepper. Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
3. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until veggies are tender and caramelized.
4. Meanwhile, cook orecchiette according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta.
5. Combine pasta, veggie mixture, and cooking liquid in Dutch oven. Stir in cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.